I was flattered awhile back when Megan Neilsen asked if I’d like to try out her Brumby skirt pattern. She was right on the mark in thinking I’d like it—Brumby is totally up my alley.
source: Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen
Out of the envelope, perhaps it wouldn’t necessarily scream “me”, but if I can look past modern styling and see a bit of a vintage twist, then I’m in. So a gathered skirt and big ol’ pockets? Not much twisting of my arm needed. Yes, please! So Megan kindly sent me a copy of the pattern to review.
And when you get down to it, the pockets actually reminded me of this 1940s play suit pattern:
1940s Anne Adams pattern, via So Vintage on Etsy
So here’s my version!
(You’ll have to pardon my disappearing/reappearing torso in these photos, obviously white top + white garage + bright day = bad choice. Oof.)
I made a few minor modifications to Brumby, not because it needed it! Mainly because I’m mostly incapable of leaving well enough alone. I knew I wanted to sew View 1, with the big pockets and slightly less width for thicker fabrics, since my cotton was rather heavy. (Not quite upholstery weight but heavier than quilting weight for sure.) But I didn’t want a mini length, and I wanted a touch more fullness. So I added 5″ in length to the front and back pieces, cut the width of the XL instead (gathering it down to the XS size, which requires literally no effort other than more gathering), and omitted the center front seam since I didn’t want the bulk of another seam. Which is super easy to do, you just cut the front on the fold and let the seam allowance (5/8″ in this case) hang off the edge of the fold line.
I also changed the zipper application. Exposed zippers are cool and I think kind of trendy right now (though you’re looking at the wrong person to ask about trends), but they aren’t my thing, so I did a lapped zipper. Of course about 30 seconds before cutting my waistband pieces I realized I needed to add length to do an underlap, which is a scary point to realize this when you’re skimpy on yardage! But I remembered just in time.
By the way, nothing wrong with my zipper below other than forgetting to zip it all the way. 😛 And I closed it with a lone leftover vintage button from a dress I sewed ages ago and have since gotten rid of.
If you’re familiar with the pattern you might notice I also swapped out the waistband. I know that’s kind of cheaty since Megan designed a nice curved 3-piece waistband, but I was a little hesitant of a wider waistband on a summer-only skirt (let’s face it, I won’t be wearing these boats with dark tights in winter). I mean you need to fit in all that grilled food, ice cream, and cocktails on the deck, after all! I’ll have to give the original waistband a whirl on a cooler-weather version sometime.
I really love those pockets! Since my fabric was rather heavy, I used a brown cotton lawn for the pocket facings which I think was a good move. They’re actually deep enough that I can stand with my arms fully down at my sides with my hands in my pockets! I can also fit in a plethora of things… a phone, keys, kittens, you get the idea.
It’s funny as it took me awhile to sew up Brumby because I was hemming and hawing about doing something really special with it. I had all these ideas for modifications, and then outfits, and finally made the matchup with this fabric. And just before starting in on the project, I had a brainstorm. A matching bolero in the same paprika red-brown would be amazing with it! Except, once I had the skirt finished, and the fabric arrived for the bolero, I changed my mind. It just felt like too much brown to me, so I skipped it. I might change my mind in the future, but for now just decided to leave this project as-is. Can’t always listen to every brainstorm!
There’s definitely part of me that feels suspiciously like this fabric, a Japanese cotton from Kokka, makes it look like I stole the curtains from some stereotypical 1950s father’s lounge, where he smokes cigars and drinks brandy and talks about sailboats and fishing. But I kind of dig it!
I knew I’d want to style it with a lot of white, so I paired it with a top from Oblong Box Shop and white patent sandals I got in the little girls’ section of Target due to funny sizing. Then I added great earrings from Luxulite, several of my favorite root beer Bakelite bangles (the wide one I picked up cheap recently at an antique mall!), a white scalloped resin bangle I made (cast from a Bakelite one), and finished off with one of my favorite summer necklaces featuring bananas, in the style of 1940s chain necklaces, by Idaho Reds (her shop is on hiatus but she makes great stuff).
The pattern is really well written and I think all experience levels could sew this up easily. Even if you’re not comfortable going rogue on a pattern like I am, among the three different views, you have lots of nice options, all detailed in the pattern. Megan also gives some great construction tips in the instructions, something I love and appreciate when indie designers include. A little, “Hey, here’s the hot tip of the day!”
One tip was that if you don’t want the pockets to gape too much, sew down the first couple of inches at the side seam, just below the based of the pocket opening. I went one further and actually lined up my stitches exactly with my pocket topstitching, so those 2″ of stitches are completely invisible! And it gives a nice shape but without them falling too open.
She also gives a different method of gathering the waistband if you’re using heavier fabric (which View 1 is designed for). Originally I was cocky and thought “this isn’t too thick, I’ll just do it the normal way” which resulted in much swearing and pulling out of mangled basting thread. I then dutifully followed her instructions to zigzag over a piece of string (after thinking “wait, I don’t have string! Oh…. I can use yarn”), which worked perfectly! So thumbs up to that tip too, I’ll definitely use it next time I’m gathering a heavier fabric and I might even try it on a mid-weight fabric. Because as much as I love gathered skirts, I detest the act of gathering. (Coincidentally Elisalex just posted a tutorial on this technique, if you haven’t tried it. And of course, the Brumby pattern gives full instructions. Easy peasy.)
All in all, Brumby was an easy skirt to sew up in a fun summer style! If I were into minis more, I think View 1 would be particularly adorable as shown, like how Megan styled it with dark tights for winter. Perhaps if above-the-knee lengths once again strike my fancy this fall like they did last fall, I’ll sew up a shorter version. But for now, I’ll enjoy my summer weather and my sailboats!
Brumby Skirt: made by me (pattern courtesy of Megan Neilsen)
top: Oblong Box Shop
Bakelite bangles: misc.
white scalloped resin bangle: made by me
necklace: Idaho Reds
Cute! I love the fabric that you used.
The pockets remind me a bit of this pattern that I just picked up on etsy. https://www.etsy.com/listing/210296506/1970s-skirt-flared-button-front-with-big?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=simplicity%206778&ref=sr_gallery_3
Totally! And Brumby would be really cute with buttons at the center front I bet, too. That’s a great pattern you picked up!
Cute! Love those big pockets and the fabric is great, you really made the pattern your own. Now I have a hankering for a 70s style denim version (obvs!)
That would be so you, Kerry!!
Oh, I love this string gathering method! I’ve gotta try it next time.
It worked great! I’d kind of scoffed at the idea before because it sounded more complicated than need be. Which is insane, seeing as running two rows of basting stitches is totally annoying and fussy, too!
Laura Poehlman says
I already own this pattern, but I haven’t taped the pdf together yet. The pockets are just dreamy, and I think that this midi look proves to me that Brumby might be a perfect pattern for the Americana novelty skirt I’ve been meaning to make from reproduction fabric I’ve had stashed for over 10 years. It might not work because it’s a shade heavier than cotton sateen/ drapery fabric, but now my gears are turning thanks to you! Also, you’re so vavoom and tiny-waisted in this ensemble! I love when you go into pinup mode.
Sounds like a lovely matchup! The pockets really are great on this. I think they’d be cute with some outlined topstitching, too. And thank you for the nice comment on my ensemble. 🙂
sew little time says
even better for gather is dental floss – it is coated so it slides against the fabric to gather really easily! i love this pattern! trying not to buy patterns but it might have to fall into my inbox! your version is lovely.
I’ve read dental floss works well too!
Lisa Sharp says
What a beautiful skirt! I really must learn to sew. 🙂
You definitely should learn to sew! 🙂
Super cute and it does remind me of a 1940’s playsuit! That fabric is adorable and I love how you’ve styled the whole outfit!!
Thanks Debi!! I’m so glad I finally found a good use for this fabric, too!
Don’t I love this skirt on you! No, no, does not look like curtains! You top, btw, is to die for with the skirt, or with a pencil skirt even. Great job detailing your changes to the pattern also.
wow! It’s a fantastic skirt, the choice of fabric works brilliantly.
Thank you! 🙂
Rochelle New says
Suuuuuuper cute fabric! Loving the skirt and that top. Great outfit all around 🙂
Thanks! I love those goofy boats! 🙂
Love your skirt! I usually just make quilts, but seeing your beautiful clothes has gotten me thinking about trying to make a skirt.
You should definitely try it!! Especially a skirt like this, it’s actually pretty simple to put together and very satisfying. 🙂
Love love love. I spent about an hour last night looking at Megan’s designs, and had decided to give the Brumby a whirl. Your version is very inspiring…thanks!
Thanks! Hope you try it out too. 🙂
Karyn Webb says
Love the skirt it looks absolutely fantastic on you and those pockets Are To Die For! I love/need pockets goodbye suitcase purse hello Brumby skirt.
Ha ha, totally! And if you wanted to fit more in them you could always make the pocket and facing deeper and you’d never see that from the outside!
You look absolutely ravishing, that skirt is perfection on you! I love the fabric so much.
I’ve got a pattern (early 1960s?) very similar to the 1940s playsuit pattern. Now I’ve seen you I’m inspired to make it up – the only trouble is there’s buttons and I’ve never attempted buttonholes before! Scared! x
Aww, thank you! Buttonholes aren’t scary by the way, you can totally handle ’em! 😀
Mostly all I heard was “Pockets big enough to fit kittens…” and my brain stopped there. Kittens! Pockets! Win! But I do like the wrap detail of your top with this skirt, they both seem to “pop” off each other. ❤
bonita of Lavender & Twill
Hee hee! Thanks!
Jessica Cangiano says
Fabulous skirt and whole pretty, summery outfit. I just love the pocket placement on this skirt. Earlier this year I got a 1950s novelty print patio blouse + skirt set and the pockets on it are lower down than any I’ve had on a skirt before. Turns out that’s surprisingly handy and now I wish it was easier to find (for us non-sewers) garments with pockets that aren’t holding hands, if you will, with the waistband.
Have a great rest of the week!
Thanks, Jessica. And I think I remember seeing that outfit! These pockets actually end up being at a great place for hands!
Gah! This is adorable! Love love love the fabric you chose!
Thanks, Sonja! Silly summer boats FTW!
Mai T says
How cute this skirt is! I love the patterns on it and the way red and white match together!